Egan sets up Ward rematch

THE scene is set for another magnificent night of finals in the Elite National Boxing Championships this Friday.

The weekend of semi-finals have thrown up a number of new pairings, though the marquee light-heavyweight clash of Joe Ward versus Kenny Egan is set for another instalment.

In the light-flyweight division, open now in the absence of six-time champion Paddy Barnes, TJ Waite faces Hugh Myers having had a comfortable 18-10 win on Saturday over Stephen Treacy.

At flyweight, London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan saw his prediction if not his wish come true, with Chris Phelan outpointing Hugh Joyce.

In the bantamweight division there was disappointment for Cork’s Barry Walsh, outclassed by Old School’s Gary McKenna, who will now meet Dublin’s Declan Geraghty in the final. A new champion will be crowned here with London silver medallist John Joe Nevin ruled out with a hand injury.

Up another weight, to lightweight, and another new pairing. In Saturday night’s action last year’s beaten 2012 finalist David Oliver Joyce was forced to go on all-out attack in the final round of his bout against Dublin’s George Bates but was unable to get to grips with Bates’ superior height, reach and hand-speed, and lost 17-12. With 2012 champion Michael McDonagh not defending, it’s now between Bates and Antrim’s Sean McComb for the title.

If Bates/Joyce was a cracker, better was to follow as another of the Joyce clan, John Joe, faced up to old rival Willie McLaughlin in Saturday’s middleweight semi, an all-action slug-fest between two outstanding fighters. Only a point separated them at the end of each of the first two rounds, just two between them at the finish, but significantly it was Donegal’s McLaughlin with his nose in front all the way.

“Fair dues to Johnny it was a helluva fight. I knew I was up against it, Johnny knew he was up against it; it was a 50-50 fight and all credit to Johnny, he gave as good as he got. It’s a pity it wasn’t the final; I fought him in the final of 2010, it was the same kind of fight. It was 3-each after round one, 6-each after two and I was beaten by three points in the end but I thought I won. That’s boxing, you have your up days and your down days — today was my up day and Johnny’s down day, unfortunately for him. Now I’m looking forward to the final.”

In Saturday’s middleweight semi-final Derry’s Conor Coyle was unlucky to lose against veteran Roy Sheehan after a countback (10-all after three, Sheehan took it 33-27) and thus denied a crack at Jason Quigley and a chance for redemption, having lost last year’s decider to Darren O’Neill.

There was controversy of a different kind in the light-heavyweight division when 10-time Elite champion and Beijing 2008 Olympic silver-medallist Kenny Egan was late into the ring against Davey Joe Joyce after a mix-up in timing. Kenny’s bout had been bumped up the programme but no-one told the man himself. It mattered little to Egan who went about his business from the opening bell. “I think I boxed alright, I boxed well within myself. He wouldn’t commit even though he was behind. I was 4-3 up after the first and then pulled away then in the second. I got my distance right for the left hand, upped the pace then again in the third, connected with a few just to make sure to win the fight.

“I’m not even thinking about next week,” he claims of his meeting with Ward. “Sunday is a rest day then I’m back into the gym on Monday. We’ll work on a few bits and pieces, I’ll be in the best possible shape for Friday and whatever happens, happens.”

Also qualifying on Saturday night for finals action were Patrick Corcoran (heavyweight) and Niall Kennedy (super-heavy).

Meanwhile, in the women’s finals a number of champions have been crowned. London 2012 Olympic lightweight gold medallist Katie Taylor didn’t have a single challenger so was an automatic while Lianne Murphy got a walkover in the light-heavyweight final.

Early into action on Saturday night, however, was 17-year-old light flyweight Hannah Carthy who proved too strong for the brave Maeve Clarke while Ceira Smith retained her 51kg title when the referee stepped in to save Shelly Daly. Clare Grace proved much too strong for Bray Garda Laoise Traynor while 75kg champion Sinead Kavanagh also retained her title, a convincing 25-6 win over Caroline Connolly.

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